Mike and I explored the Mexican Yucatán Peninsula for 2 weeks of flyfishing (Mike), diving (Stacey), snorkeling, Maya ruins, a colonial city, cenotes, quite a few hammocks and lots of great food.

When Mike flew home I headed to San Cristóbal de las Casas in Chiapas for 2 weeks of Spanish study with a small group in tow. We lived with host families and visited area sights including villages, museums, and ruins.

When the group flew home I bused to San Pedro La Laguna on Lake Atitlán in Guatemala for a week of planning for future growth of the Beca Project (link below) and meeting our sponsored kids and their families.

When our daughter Mariah and her husband Greg invited us to share a timeshare in Quintana Roo between Christmas and New Years, a new chapter to this blog was added. HAPPY TRAILS!

Friday, December 31, 2010

Happy New Year!

Mariah and Greg had another relaxing pool/beach day. Mike and I headed to Playa in the little rental car with 3 goals in mind: food to celebrate New Years, a Maya chocolate ice cream treat (a return to Ah Cacao for me), and hand made tiles for a backsplash in our kitchen. Success on all counts! HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Laid back day

Today we decided to hang out at the resort on the beach and at the pool. The collection below includes a couple of random shots from yesterday, a few shots around the resort, and a close up of our delicious sushi dinner (Gong restaurant at the resort). Happy trails!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Maya ruins and more good food

We rose early in order to make it an hour south to the Tulum ruins when they opened at 8am. Good call - the parking lot was practically empty and we enjoyed the grounds, the ruins, and especially the views with few other visitors. There were a few lizards poking their heads out and the colors of the sea are surreal. It’s disappointing that you can’t really climb on or through the ruins but we enjoyed them anyway. The hoards of visitors from Playa and Cancun were beginning to arrive as we headed out.

Big lizards on wall at left and peaking out on right:

We overcame a minor disappointment when Mike’s and my favorite breakfast spot in Tulum was closed (Azafran), but found another keeper, Rincón Poblano (just north of the bus station) - inexpensive and delicious:

Then we headed west to the ruins of Cobá. I was surprised how many people were there but I loved the jungly setting and you can scramble around and climb the ruins to your heart’s content.

From the top of the big temple:

And from the bottom:

Some little friends:

From there we headed back to Tulum to 3 spots Mike and I enjoyed last summer, first to a popular locals’ spot called El Camello (the camel) for shrimp tacos:

Then to a cool produce market:

and a neighborhood grocery for cilantro, lime, bananas, avocados, chips, beans, and salsa for dinner before heading back to our comfy resort. Happy trails!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2nd full day in the Riviera Maya

Another beautiful day in paradise. Today was a bit overcast and in the mid 70’s; not a perfect day for lying by the pool or on the beach but a perfect day for other activities. Mariah and I headed to Playa del Carmen in a resort shuttle van, 40 pesos each way pp. The main drag was packed with tourists (graphically so compared to last August's low season visit) but we managed to haggle for great prices on silver jewelry and Cuban cigars and picked up some (incredibly hot) local hot sauce.

At a local small café called Ah Cacao (corner of Constituyentes and 5th Ave.) we enjoyed a spicy Maya hot chocolate (Mariah) and the homemade ice cream version (me) - both incredible.

Next we found the best produce market (DAK - on 30th just north of the Mega grocery) around for fruit and vegies for dinner and tomorrow’s picnic before heading back to the resort.

The resort is so huge it’s quite a walk to the shops, restaurants, pool, and beach. The windy paths are surrounded by nice, jungly landscaping:

with the occasional surprise, like a coati:

And a life size nativity with giant balls that glow red at night:

We usually walk but trolleys run in loops, nice when you’re packing groceries and jugs of purified water:

While we enjoyed our outing, Mike and Greg enjoyed 18 holes of golf enhanced by Cuban cigars:

Back in the suite we enjoyed views of the birds and sunset:

Then prepared a wonderful dinner: fish filets with mango sauce, pasta alfredo with peppers, onions, squash, and garlic, and Maya chocolate brownies for dessert. Happy trails!

Riviera Maya vacation!

On Christmas day Mike and I and our daughter Mariah and her husband Greg spent the night near the airport in Portland. Early the 26th we flew to Cancun with a quick stop in Phoenix; the flights were uneventful other than a fraying passport scare and a small is-there-a-seat-for you!? scare due to an overbooked flight. The rental car process was nicer than expected and before we knew it we were at the enormous, beautiful Mayan Palace Resort between Puerto Morelos and Playa del Carmen. I'm pretty comfortable in Mexico but have never stayed in a resort before so I'm enjoying a little end of the year culture shock.

We celebrated our safe arrival and the pending week together with a nice dinner at Tramonto, one of the 8 restaurants at the resort:

Next morning we enjoyed a long sleep; here's Mike enjoying the jungle and golf course view from one of the 3 balconies in our suite which also includes 2 bedrooms, 2 baths, and a nice living/dining/kitchen area.

Mariah and Greg's Christmas present from us this year was a day trip to visit local Maya ruins and a special surprise - a visit to a spider monkey sanctuary called the Jungle Place. The owners took our cameras and shot hundreds of photos; here are some of my favorites:

I had raisins hidden in my pocket:

We liked the rugged, jungly roads better than the busy highway with construction, accidents, and too many traffic lights.

This is the Xunaan Ha cenote near the monkey place. A cenote is a fresh water sink hole; sometimes they're covered and cavey, this one was open to the surrounding wilds.

Next we headed to Akumal for some late afternoon snorkeling; 1st we got serious about delicious fish tacos at the Lol Ha snack bar on the beach.

Even though it was a bit cool and cloudy and late in the day, we enjoyed snorkeling (well, 3 of us did, Mike was a little cold). We saw lots of beautiful sea turtles and swam out to the reef where we saw the usual cast of characters in terms of reef fish (I counted more than 30 species as I snorkeled along) and some interesting rays.

On the way "home" we stopped for a major shopping trip, as seen below.

Since we'd eaten such a late, big lunch we enjoyed a light dinner - crackers and bread, local cheeses and meats, fresh avocado and pineapple. :-)

And for dessert mango cream cakes. Happy trails!